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review 2018-05-26 20:22
Murder on Black Swan Lane by Andrea Penrose
Murder on Black Swan Lane - Andrea Penrose

Series: Wrexford & Sloane #1



I'm not sure what it was exactly, but this mystery didn't really work for me. Part of it may have been the alchemy references.; I was very pleased that the story didn't veer off in a woo-woo direction. And at least in this first book, there wasn't a silly romance. So in theory it gets points for that.


But I still felt pretty meh about it.

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review 2018-05-26 19:23
A deeper exploration of the dilemmas in a Star Trek trope
The Joy Machine - Theodore Sturgeon,James Gunn

Of all of the Star Trek novels that I read, there are none that I look forward to reading more than the ones by authors who also scripted episodes of the show itself, in no small part because they developed the canon upon which the entire series is based. Though Theodore Sturgeon's novel was developed from a plot outline for the series by another author (the under-appreciated James Gunn), to read a work originating from the writer of "Shore Leave" and the Vulcan-defining classic "Amok Time" was an exciting prospect, especially considering its origins as a proposed episode for the series.


The result proved every bit as good as I thought it would be. In it the Enterprise is dispatched to Timshel, a planet that has quarantined itself off from the rest of the Federation. Beaming down, Captain Kirk finds a population that has turned away from intellectual pursuits to a life structured around laboring daily for a nightly dose of stimulation from the Joy Machine a computer created to provide a life of perfect happiness for the people. As Kirk investigates further, he grapples with the moral questions entailed in ending the Joy Machine's rule, as well as the frightening prospect of falling under the machine's control himself.


Sturgeon and Gunn's plot evokes a lot of the tropes that often recurred in the original series, echoing in particular the first season episode "Return of the Archons" in which a computer's rule established a tranquil population by eliminating individual expression. What sets the novel apart from the episode is the extended exploration of the implications of the Joy Machine's rule. Often this takes the form of dialogues between various characters, as the Enterprise crew argues with both the computer and its subjects, who readily and even eagerly accept the computer's programmed regimen and who raise larger questions about the purpose of  human lives in the process. In this respect it evokes the moral and ethical dilemmas posed in some of the best episodes of the show, which are explored in greater depth than was ever possible due to the constraints posed by the format. As such Gunn's novel possesses a fidelity to the original series often lacking in other products of the franchise, while at the same time showing just what fresh possibilities exist by exploring its themes using other media.

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review 2018-05-26 18:24
The Seven by Peter Newman
The Seven - Peter C. Newman

Series: The Vagrant #3


This was a fairly satisfying end to the Vagrant trilogy. Of course, some people don't make it and others only make it severely changed when the Seven finally wake up.


The setting is a kind of weird fantasy dystopia with technology, which makes some people call it SF although I wouldn't. The presence of what are basically demon-like creatures who take over human bodies makes it fantasy in my opinion. I didn't love it but I recognize that it was well-done and found it fairly entertaining.

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review 2018-05-25 22:00
"An Argumentation Of Historians - The Chronicles of St Mary's #9" by Jodi Taylor
 An Argumentation of Historians: The Chronicles of St. Mary's - Jodi Taylor,Zara Ramm



So the last St. Mary's book, "And The Rest Is History"mangled my emotions with great skill, putting me through much more angst than any allegedly light story about time-travelling historians has a right to. In her introduction to "An Argumentation Of Historians", Jodi Taylor says that her publishers asked if she could make this volume a little less depressing.  I think she managed that, but only just.


When Max says towards the start of the book:

"It had been a bad year but it was over now. I could look forward to the future"

I'm sure not a single reader will believe her.

There are lots of good things in this chronicle of St. Mary's. I was immediately back at home watching St. Mary's muddle through with stout hearts, awful luck and a reckless excess of pluck. We started off at a joust with Henry VIII and at the burning of Persepolis with Alexander the Great. It was all good stuff.


When it turned out that Clive Roland was back as the big bad and I became less pleased. This is a man with all of Time to choose from who still chooses to spend his energies plotting revenge on Max. He's apparently clever enough to avoid the might of the Time Police yet too dumb to kill Max on sight. I've had enough of that. I'd like a new bad guy. or at least the slow, painful and definitively final excoriation of this one. I found myself saying: "New balls, please!"


Then Jodi Taylor did it again. Just as I'd grown dissatisfied, Max ends up, lost, alone and with no hope of rescue in England in 1399 and we are treated to an engaging story of her efforts to make a life for herself there. This part of the book, which seemed like half of it, is wonderfully done.


The plot twist at the end holds up and explains a lot of the action but I didn't find it as satisfying as the 1399 section.


This was a good St. Mary's episode with some evocative pieces and it moves the story arc along but I'll be happier if/when we get a different big bad on the scene (although I'd be happy to applaud clever and violent revenge in the meantime.



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review 2018-05-25 22:00
Absolutely fantastic!
Transformers: IDW Collection Phase Two Volume 3 - Jimbo Salgado,Nick Roche,Alex Milne,John Barber,James Lamar Roberts

This is just splendid: a lot of storylines are coming together, and it's beautiful to watch it all in one go.  


I think I'm gonna reread all this next year, too, to be honest.

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